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Affordable Landscape Design for a Gardener’s Budget

Portland Affordable Landscaping Using Existing Plants

Portland affordable landscaping integrating existing plants.

Front entry makeover

Priscilla knew she would be doing a majority of the work herself, so the design needed to be within her abilities with affordable landscaping.  She needed a designer who understood that.  She selected Landscape Design in a Day and was all set for her on site design day with me, Alana Chau.  Priscilla is possibly the best sport when it came to her landscape design process. The day before we were set to meet, I tore my ACL playing soccer. Yes, I know, adults playing soccer are just asking to get injured. Luckily, Priscilla graciously rescheduled for a few weeks later.

Client Wish List

Priscilla and her family live on a gently sloping corner lot with a beautiful river birch (Betula nigra) as the main focal point. There were two other established trees and, to my delight, they wanted all of these trees to be part of the final design. They all seemed to be in great shape. The family wanted to keep a large amount of the grass for the kids. As is often the case for corner lots, the majority of space and sun for grass is the front yard.  There would be kids playing in the front yard as well as the backyard.

Using existing large trees help make landscaping affordable.

A mighty River Birch, Betula nigra, in winter

Big Trees

Working around well established trees is always a blessing and a curse. For anyone who has been to a brand new housing development where all the trees are skinny twigs and there is no good shade to be found, you know why an established tree is a blessing. Big trees also make the whole neighborhood look and feel good.  If you add the wildlife benefit of stately trees, you can understand why I encourage people to take care of and keep their big trees if at all feasible. The curse, of course, is the roots. And river birches are known for large roots right near the surface. Plants and lawn have a difficult time competing with these types of roots.

Portland home in need of affordable landscaping.

Before

Garden Rooms Design Concept

This lawn was doing reasonably well considering the root competition but other plants would be difficult to get established. Instead of trying to create a garden bed around the birch, I decided to use the vertical weight of the birch tree to create separate garden “rooms” in the front garden. This allowed us to create an entry courtyard.  The courtyard idea fits the style of the home nicely by playing to the 4 low living room windows.  The birch divides the outdoor courtyard entry garden from the street frontage garden room nicely.

Keeping the client’s request to create landscape design within her abilities, we didn’t change the front walkway.  We worked with the existing walk and front door concrete pad.   Instead, I created the feeling of a wider entry with 2 circular shaped sweeps of decorative rock to either side of the front door.  We promise to get a better photo of the sweeps as they were a great idea for a difficult space and Priscilla and I are more than a bit pleased with our sweeps of decorative rock and the overall effect on this tricky entry.

Hardscape Landscaping Materials

Boulders from American Landscape Supply, delivered.

Decorative gravel from Oregon Decorative Rock.

Planting Plan

Choosing Plants

The 4 sections of beautiful mid-century windows are only a foot off the ground, and these are the only windows for the living room. We wanted to see greenery at ground level even in the cruelest month.  I knew we needed to showcase the windows along with the front entry door and I did not want to block any light whatsoever. Plant material was therefore kept low, with year-round interest.

Year long interest of coral bells helps with affordable landscaping.

Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’, Coral Bells

Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Lavender ‘Goodwin Creek’ and Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’ are repeated throughout the landscape.

Witch hazel adds winter interest for Portland home landscaping.

Witch hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

A winter-blooming witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’) graces the kitchen window on the opposite side of the house.

A DIY trellis for this Portland home supports a clematis.

Up-cycled trellis for Clematis ‘Polish Spirit’ from old windows

Clematis ‘Polish Spirit’ is positioned between two existing camellia hedges on an up-cycled trellis made from old windows.

 

Landscape Design Review

Priscilla’s Thoughts on Working with Alana

“My design experience with Alana and Landscape Design in a Day was outstanding and worth Every. Single. Penny! Here are some highlights that I think will be helpful for you to know about working with Alana:
• She took my opinions seriously and incorporated them into the design.
• Took our budget into mind—I need something that is affordable, but beautiful.  To get the final look you want, you may have to do the work in stages if you are on a budget—if you can embrace that, she can help you.
• She considered the seasons when plants would be blooming and not, so that there is never a time when the garden is completely bare of leaves and flowers. She also considered our gardening skill—not incorporating plants that require detailed, meticulous care.”

~Priscilla

Are you interested in improving your front yard through a collaborative design process? Contact us today!

Year 2 Update

It’s always fun to visit a garden after the plants have had a chance to grow in. Priscilla has been enjoying the front yard so much they put 4 chairs out front to just hang out and chat with neighbors.

Chairs in the front garden.

This parking strip is only 8 inches wide in some spots. Tough plants such as Creeping thyme (Thymus praecox ‘Coccineus’) and Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’) can handle this type of situation.

The low windows presented a design challenge at first but now overlook a beautiful garden of ever-changing blooms and different foliage colors.

Close up of plant combination: Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Hosta ‘Guacamole’, Heuchera ‘Forever Purple’ and Lavender ‘Goodwin Gray. Azorella trifurcata is the groundcover.

Grant Park Georgian Style House Gets an Entry Landscape Makeover

Residential Landscape Design Makeover for Portland Front Lawn

Landscape Design in a Day transforms a boring front yard into a welcoming entry with serious curb appeal for this Grant Park home in Portland Oregon.

Front Yard – After installation photo complete with Mary’s zinnias on the corner.

Clients Wish List

Mark and Mary have a beautiful double lot in NE Portland and their large backyard is dreamy. They have lived in their Georgian style home for decades.  They felt their existing front yard didn’t play with the house and that the street appeal was lacking.  They wanted the front yard to be at the same level as the amazing backyard. They hired Landscape Design in a Day via a referral from neighbor friends, Chris and Stacey.  See their backyard transformation.

They like their covered front porch for greeting visitors

Before photo of Portland residential front yard landscape design.

Front Yard – Before

out of the rain, and wanted a secondary space for seating in the front yard. Mary specifically dreamed of a spot to be able to relax in the evening and look up at the night sky.

Mark wanted to retain much of the lawn and Mary wanted to make sure her Zinnia’s still had a spot in the final landscape.

Designers perspective

Before our new landscape was installed, the house didn’t feel connected to it’s

Portland residential design includes colorful zinnias.

Close up of the zinnias.

land and the plantings were too sparse to be good company for the house. So, the first task was to create a strong walkway to visually ground the strong Georgian style of the house.

Usually a front walkway feels more inviting when originating from the sidewalk and not the driveway. The intersecting street butts directly into the front yard nearly lining up with the front porch. We were all cautious about having the front walkway start directly from the sidewalk. Since their lot is deep, they don’t park in front section of their driveway so the walkway can still be accessed with ease by their friends and family.  The shape of the walkway also gave us a perfect spot for a dramatic tree and interesting plantings near the front door.

Side Yard Transforms into Sit Spot

Before remodel of Portland client side yard landscape design.

Side Yard – Before Landscape Design w Fatsia Japonica – Japanese Aralia

We combined those Belgian Blocks and the homeowner’s desire for a sit spot into one serene solution. The new stone patio directly to the left of the front porch re-used the old front walk material nicely. This patio is close enough to the porch to give the sense of expanding the front entry. But because it is a few steps down, it allows the homeowners to be in their front yard and see the beautiful views while feeling separated from the function of a front door and the busyness of the sidewalk.

While it was easy to fulfill their lawn and zinnia requests, it took a bit of a discussion to select th

Portland installation of patio pavers with existing Fatsia japonica -Japanese Aralia landscape.

Side Yard – During installation with Sam with D and J Landscape Contracting

e exact small tree for our final planting plant. The graceful form of the perfectly sized Japanese Maple helps balances out the tall evergreens in the neighbors yard. It provides some weight to that side of the landscape and anchors the house. Plus, you can watch the tree’s seasonal changes through the windows of the house – what a treat.

Installation

We referred the project to D&J Landscape Contractors .  They installed the landscape design and replaced the driveway.

Plants

Landscape Design in a Day transforms a boring side yard into a welcoming entry with serious curb appeal for this Grant Park home in Portland Oregon.

Side Yard – Just Finished

The large upright Japanese Maple is Acer palmatum ‘Shin Deshojo’

For summer and fall fun – the ornamental grass Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’.

The purple-red tones of the Sedum ‘Xenox’ and Heuchera ‘Cherry Cola’ echo the brick of the house.

For evergreen texture – hens and chicks (Sempervivum sp.) and dwarf pines (Pinus mugo) ‘Sherwoods Compact’.

Year 2 photo of Portland residential side yard.

Side Yard: Year 2, Alana returned to design a small section of the backyard and couldn’t help but snap a few photos of how the front has filled in.

Other plants:  Heathers, American Switch Grass and dwarf varieties of Oak Leaf Hydrangea, Euphorbia, Hydrangea, and Lavender.

Landscape Design in a Day transforms a boring front yard into a welcoming entry with serious curb appeal for this Grant Park home in Portland Oregon.

Planting Close up – Little Bunny Ornamental Grass, Sedum ‘Xenox’, Daylilies

Materials

New walkway is Bluestone, patio is re-used Belgian Block

Reflection

“Mary and I are thrilled with our front yard…it turned out just incredibly beautiful.  There’s so much more dimension to the front now and it is so creatively laid out.  We just really want to thank you for your fine work.  I hope you’ll have the chance soon to stop by and see the final product.  From the bottom of our hearts…thank you.” – Mark and Mary

Mar and Mary celebrating their newly installed Portland front yard residential landscape design.

Happy Clients

Contact us

Would you like to create a welcoming entry experience that makes your house look and feel it’s best?  We would love to work with you.  Call us at 503-223-2426 or use our contact form.

 

Portland Landscape Designer Alana Chau

Portland Landscape Designer Alana Chau

Hi I’m Alana and I love being a Landscape Designer.

I met Carol one December day at Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island. I was a sales associate and she wanted a unique plant gift for her sister. She was the only customer there because… December… so we got to chatting. Fast forward a few years and I now design for her company, Landscape Design in a Day.

Portland Oregon Residential Landscape Design Alana Chau

Alana Chau, Landscape Designer

Start Out With The Fun

I like to start out with what you really want for your outdoor space. Eating area? Low Maintenance? Year-round interest? Let’s talk about what having a great yard means to you, because everyone’s “great yard” is different. I have yet to meet two homeowners who want exactly the same thing. That’s what makes this job so fun.

Modern residential Landscape Design in Kenton Portland Oregon

Talk about fun! See more of this multi-function front yard here.

Then Comes the Function

This is where we get down to business. How does the space need to function to make your life better? Where do you need access to get to the trash bins and how do those bins get to the street?  Is there a water issue here and a drought issue there? Don’t worry, these are not questions you need to answer, these are the questions for which we find creative solutions!

hardscape residential landscaping deck with a modern twist in Portland Oregon

This project had so many interesting challenges and was a joint effort between Carol and I. More details here.

And Finally, Plants!

I love plants. It’s what got me into Landscape Design. I’m a former engineer who didn’t play well with cubicle life. I spent most of my working life as a consultant before finally taking the leap and going back to school for Landscape Design. Although it’s not all sunshine and roses (there is rain, dog poo, and blackberry bushes to contend with after all), I absolutely get a kick out of helping people turn their inspirations and worries into a real live landscape that they get to enjoy.

Drought Tolerant residential Landscaping along fence

Plants are the icing on the cake. See more of this backyard, including a very unique deck and bbq spot, here.

Ready to Get Going?

Of course I provide full Landscape Designs to transform your yard. But I also provide Garden Consultations and Garden Coaching at your home for those of you who don’t need the full transformation. Ask questions, learn how to correctly plant or prune, or just float some of your ideas around and get an understanding of what can work for your individual space.

If you’d like to set up some time to chat, please email me [email protected] or text/call 503-927-3279. I look forward to working with you!

Thoughts from past Clients:

“Josh and I feel so lucky to have found Alana to design our dream garden oasis. It would have taken us years to plan what she masterfully designed in a day! We were not ready to do everything at once, but with a professional design plan customized to our liking, we were able to move forward with a plan. (Even though it has been implemented in stages and mostly diy!) She offered support through the entire process, from the very beginning design stage to follow up after our phased installation. We would highly recommend her services to anyone who is interested in quality and creative landscape design.” ~Gina, see No Lawn Backyard for the Whole Family

“Last night, Sam and I sat at our picnic table after dinner, enjoying the evening and watching a hummingbird feed on the flowers in our garden. Our scruffy backyard has been transformed, and we could not have done it without Alana’s help.  While we thought we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted, she saw potential that we did not. The design process was efficient, collaborative and enjoyable. The resulting landscape provides a variety of spaces, plantings and views that we plan to enjoy for many years.” ~Doreen, see A Pollinator Garden Paradise

“My design experience with Alana and Landscape Design in a day was outstanding and worth Every. Single. Penny! Here are some highlights that I think will be helpful for you to know about working with Alana:
• She was organized and professional, at each meeting.
• She took my opinions seriously and incorporated them into the design.
• She is also very thoughtful about being a good steward of the earth/wildlife and provided tips on how to be better stewards as well. She also suggested noninvasive plants –some of which are drought tolerant for the areas of our yard that get full sun during the summer months.
• Took our budget into mind—I need something that is affordable, but beautiful. We cannot afford to drop $50,000 on a front yard. To get the final look you want, you may have to be done in stages if you are on a budget—if you can embrace that, she can help you.
• She considered our timeline/budget, so that we could design/plant our yard in sections. She considered the seasons when plants would be blooming and not, so that there is never a time with the garden is completely bare of leaves and flowers. She also considered our gardening skill—not incorporating plants that require detailed, meticulous care.
• She was also considerate enough to respond to my emails within a day or so. So often I feel like I am left hanging for a week before someone responds, so it was refreshing to have someone respond within a reasonable amount of time.” ~Priscilla, (blog coming soon!)

Portland Garden Designer’s Holiday Gift Ideas

Portland Garden Designer with Favorite Tilly Hat

Tilly Hat on Portland Garden Designer Carol Lindsay

Portland Garden Designer’s Gift Ideas

Here are my favorite items to give as gifts.  The Tilley hat, favorite therapeutic hand cream, inexpensive gloves, Garden Design Magazine, plants as gifts and pruning tools.

The Tilley Hat

You can buy a Tilley hat at REI, Bonnet in NW Portland at Bonnet or on line.  I love my summer (Hemp fabric) Tilley hat because whether it’s picking peaches or playing with my dog, my hat stays on, it’s easy to wash.  I am around a lot of dirt and it is still a cream color. It protects my face from the sun (is recommended by some dermatologists for that purpose) and it’s not too hot to wear in the summer.

Hand Care

http://www.crabtree-evelyn.com/collections/gardeners/60-second-fix-for-hands/Gar-Fix-For-Hands.html

Great Hand Care Product

My favorite hand care product is Evelyn and CrabTree  60 second fix for hands.  It has 2 products, the Ultra Moisturizing Hand Therapy and the 2nd product called Hand Recovery.  There are more heavy duty hand products out there but this one has a light fragrance and penetrates the skin.  It’s therapeutic.  I handle art supplies and  garden so I like a good hand product.  Andalou Naturals Hand Cream is also nice but doesn’t penetrate the skin nearly as well.

Gloves

I love having A LOT of gloves.  I’m a person who misplaces gloves and as a child I resented that nursery rhyme about the kittens who lost their mittens because clearly I was going to be one of those kittens.  I have 20 pairs of inexpensive work gloves.  Gloves are great stocking stuffers.

Portland Landscape Designer Loves Garden Design MagazineGarden Design Magazine

Garden Design magazine readers are garden enthusiasts! They love the full-length stories (some run 10 to 20 pages to include lots of glorious photography) on plants, gardens, and design ideas for you to put to use—all presented without ads.

There are no ads in Garden Design. Yes, you read that right—no ads.  Just 148 pages of beautiful gardens and plants delivered to you each quarter. These are more like books. I’ve given this magazine to gardening clients and they are over the moon and tend to subscribe on their own the next year.

Give a gift link: https://www.gardendesign.com/subscribe/gift

Plants As Gifts

North Portland Garden Design Itoh PeonyNorth Portland Itoh Peony in Garden Design

Itoh Peonies are so popular this year (2017) that wholesale and retail sources sold out completely. The variety called ‘Cora Louise’ was the most popular and the first to be gone from retail and wholesale sources.   Why are Itoh Peonies special?

They are tough enough for low maintenance landscapes so they are not just for serious gardeners……..and serious gardeners have simply lost their minds over these beautiful and sturdy stemmed plants.  If you have a gardener in your life who loves big colorful flowers……..this gift will express your love for years. A gift certificate to a local retail nursery with a photo would do it. Expect to spend $125 to $150 for a 5 gallon plant.  Here are links to Portland Nursery gift card, Cornell Farm gift card and a video explaining more about Itoh Peonies.

Another popular plant for gardeners that you can buy in December are Hellebores and the big garden nurseries will have these for sale starting in December through March.  These are somewhat toxic so don’t leave them where small children or pets can get them.

Pruning Tools

Pruners –  I love Felco and Corona tools the best.  Cheaper but very lightweight pruners and clippers from Fiskar are popular too.  Here is a good one called PowerGear.  Felcos are for the gardener in your life.  I still love my #6 Felco hand pruner for smaller hands and think they fit most women better than a #2 Felco hand pruner. Utube video on how to select ergonomic pruning tools for people who want to learn how to prune their trees and shrubs.  The right tools make a big difference in the outcome for your plants.

Portland Landscape Designer and River Life

Portland Landscape Designers floating home

After Bob transforms the single story floating house and boat tender.

As a Portland landscape designer I’m in and out of 2 or 3 homes a week.  It’s fun to see how people live so I figure it’s only fair to share how I live and many people are curious about living in a floating home.  I can also brag about my partner Bob’s amazing design/build skills by sharing the before and after photos.

Weather

There are a lot of wonderful things about living on the water but watching the river and the weather play together is the best.  Most of the time they play nicely but sometimes, like last winters snow, was quite challenging.  Too much snow on one side of the house creates a tip and after a day or two of the eggs cooking on one side of the pan everyone gets a little crabby including our cat Cracker Jack.

The best part is that everything in the sky, clouds, sunrise colors, and geese heading south is duplicated in the water.  This includes the eclipse in August of 2017.  There’s a photo that got away.  The wind typically doesn’t rock the house, usually it’s a boater going by too fast creating a wake that rocks the house, but when we have gusts and white caps, I swear I can feel the soul of the wind.    Weather is intimate down on the water.

Wildlife

We have a resident blue heron who likes to scare people at dusk by flying low and silent until he is just overhead of an unsuspecting landscape designer trudging down the dock toward home.  He makes that low gruff and very loud Heron squack.  This is followed by another loud noise or two as I retrieve my belongings from where I threw them when I was startled out of my revere.  So far I’ve never tossed my car keys in the water but its been a close thing.  Car keys go in ones’ pocket upon departure from the car.

We have regular visits by Stellar sea lions especially when the salmon are running.  They are curious and a bit snoopy.  No photos but great stories of sea lions stealing from fisher folk in boats and on the bank.

Portland Landscape Designer moves to the river

Before floating home re-design and remodel,  a sweet house waiting to become our home

I’ve enjoyed our old goose couple for many years now but haven’t been able to get a hold of her eggs for artistic flights of fancy for a few years.  We have otters who mate under our house every late spring.  This ritual goes on for about 5 days.  It is not quiet.  We have bats and mud swallows and they have a schedule for coming in the spring and leaving in late summer or fall.  The diving birds come in mid fall and stay for a good part of winter.  There are two kinds of owls and a particular owl couple who sit on each end of the marina and talk half the night.  Their hoots are mostly pleasant sounding. There is quite a menagerie and I feel so close to nature here.

Practicalities of River Life

Yes, we schlep our groceries and everything else down to our floating home with a rolling cart.  One lives very close to ones’ neighbors down here but so far its been a happy chummy place when you want chums and plenty of privacy when you don’t.  I’ve met amazing and dearly memorable people.

Blue Heron entertains Portland landscape designer

Our Blue Heron is a poser.

Once we get home we don’t want to leave so most of the time we don’t.  Why would we leave to go somewhere when we can be here?

Floating home Multnomah Channel diver checks floatation

Checking flotation.

Portland landscape designers' view of fall fisherman in red boat

My view in fall.

Growing greens above ground

Growing greens above ground

Portland Landscape Designer paints eggs.

Felix and Oscar are not pleased with their eggs.

Best of all I have a wonderful view of Sauvie Island and the river.  I’m sure the river has a very positive influence on my  life to include my Portland landscape designs.

Floating Home buried by the snow of January 2017

Floating Homes with snow